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HWL R1 Preview: Iran men to make World League debut in Muscat

September 1, 2014
Road to Rio: Hockey World League R1 - Men - Muscat (OMA)

The Hockey World League, the tournament that makes the dream of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a possibility for every hockey playing nation, returns to action in the coming days. 

In the sixth of our Round 1 event previews, we focus our attention on the men’s competition in the historic city of Muscat where host nation Oman (FIH World Ranking: 23), Azerbaijan (WR: 34), Thailand (WR: 58) and the currently unranked Iran all take their first steps on the Road to Rio. The event will be played between 5-7 September, with the winner guaranteed a place in the second phase of the competition. 

Azerbaijan and Oman are both expected to lead the charge for the top spot in Muscat. Both were participants in the inaugural Hockey World League, and actually faced each other in the Round 1 event in Doha, Qatar (November 2012). Azerbaijan came away as tournament winners but had to withdraw from the second phase, with Oman taking their place in the Round 2 event in New Delhi. Although Oman could only manage a fifth place finish, the event gave them valuable experience against higher-ranked opponents such as China, Ireland and eight times Olympic Gold medallists India.

Thailand were also involved in the first edition of the Hockey World League but failed to get past Round 1 thanks to a fourth place finish at the tournament in Singapore in 2012. 2013 proved to be far more fruitful, claiming the Bronze medal at the inaugural Asian Challenge in 2013 in Bangkok.

Iran will make their HWL debut in Muscat and will be keen to leave a lasting impression. A recent second place finish in the inaugural West Asia Cup, held in Doha, shows that they cannot be underestimated. The Iranians - who became Asian indoor champions for the fifth time in succession earlier this year - were beaten only by a shoot-out, with HWL rivals Oman emerging as the tournament’s first ever winners. 

You can keep track of the results from Muscat on the official tournament microsite, with FIH.CH bringing a full summary of the action upon the completion of the event.

The second edition of the Hockey World League got underway earlier this year, with the women’s teams of Malaysia and Belarus emerging triumphant at respective Round 1 events in Singapore and Lithuania before Russia men stormed to victory in Croatia in July. 

The September return will see no fewer than nine different Round 1 tournaments will take place over 13 action-packed days, with Czech Republic, Kenya, Bangladesh, Oman and Mexico playing host to the various men’s and women’s events. The remaining Round 1 competitions will be played in Jamaica (30 September - 5 October 2014) and Fiji (6-13 December 2014), both of which will feature men’s and women’s tournaments. 

The winning team at each event is guaranteed a place in Round 2 of the Hockey World League, where they will be joined by a number of the highest-placed finishers from the Round 1 tournaments. Round 2 will also see the introduction of the teams placed from 12 to 19 in the FIH World Rankings with the sides ranked 1 to 11 starting their journey in Round 3, where tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as qualification for the Finals tournament are up for grabs.  

More information about the Hockey World League and all of the upcoming Round 1 events can be found by clicking here.

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